(This is not likely to interest philosophers, since our profession is afflicted with very few of these kinds of right-wing cranks--with the emphasis on cranks.)
One of my readers had a clever idea that this kind of guide would be amusing for those who browse blogs, since these sorry folks turn up again and again whenever there is a chance to bash poor mild-mannered me. (Oddly, Eugene Volokh [Law, UCLA] is keen on providing such opportunities...but more on his sleaziness momentarily.) To their credit, these folks post their smears under their own names, though, in another sense, even with their names attached, they remain anonymous. My wife refers to the nasty types who carry on like this in the comment sections of blogs as "the bottom feeders of the blogosphere," which certainly seems apt. Here they are; I would welcome any insight readers have into these peculiar people who you would think, as lawyers, would have better things to do with their time. And, loyal readers, if you meet them in a comments section somewhere, please post a link to this item!
(1) Robert Schwartz is a lawyer in Florida. He's probably one of these five fellows, with apologies to the four who are grown up enough not to spend their time sliming people in the comments sections of blogs. "Our" Mr. Schwartz has become something of a broken record: he shows up on almost any thread where my name appears to denounce me as a "blowhard and a bully" (translation: I criticize the right-wing views and people he likes) and he usually makes up a few things in the process. (To get an idea of the depth of his obsession, see his pointless intervention on this thread, followed by Paul Gowder's apt question for him: "are you nuts?".) He appears never to have recovered from being thrown off Crooked Timber by Henry Farrell for being so insufferable or from this posting of mine recording that and a related event. For summer fun, one student has started a "Robert Schwartz Watch" to keep track of his blogospheric meanderings.
(2) Kneave Riggall is a tax lawyer in Southern California, who is also an adjunct at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He gets credit for the weirdest personal attack I've ever seen (Orin Kerr [Law, George Washington], being a nice guy, deleted it from the Volokh Conspiracy, but I saved a copy):
Kneave Riggall (mail):Brian Leitner has -- and I say this with love -- a paranoid personality disorder and a foul mouth. He's also ugly, but who cares? Its his personality that keeps him friendless.
(3) David Nieporent is a graduate of St. John's law school in Queens, who now practices with a small firm in New Jersey. He gets very wound up whenever my name comes up, though discursive cogency is not his strong suit. He is a case study in my earlier point that "in debates about 'tone' and 'civility'...the critics, without fail, will abandon civility and adopt a harsh tone in the presence of the views that they deem 'beyond the pale.'" The next time you meet Mr. Nieporent in Cyberspace, remind him of this.
(4) Harry Niska is a University of Minnesota Federalist Society member. He is memorable mainly because he may have made the single most bizarre comment in response to my critique of Lawrence VanDyke's confusions last year: he pointed out that Mr. VanDyke "is, incidentally, quite a strapping lad, a fact that might inspire more respect from Professor Leiter if he had ever seen Lawrence." Even Mr. VanDyke never implied or suggested, in response to my critique, that he was going to beat me up!
Of course, there is one more person who really deserves honorable mention, namely, Eugene Volokh (Law, UCLA), though he is clever enough to have folks like those above do his dirty work.
Although Professor Volokh professes to be committed to civility and nice manners, his actual preference is to encourage his right-wing readers to sling the slime, as I had the misfortune to discover a few weeks back. Eugene Volokh, quite predictably, came to the defense (at least of the anonymity) of his fellow blogger, the pseudonymous "Juan Non-Volokh," after I shredded him a few weeks ago for his misreadings and bad arguments. Professor Volokh's post in response feigned his usual benign posture (he said it wouldn't be "nice" to expose Mr. Non-Volokh's identity [he's not read Schopenhauer, it appears]), but then invited his readers to opine on whether I was being "nice" and opened up comments on his heavily-trafficked blog site knowing full well what would happen: the usual parade of right-wing dopes (including Schwartz, Nierporent et al.) began to insult and defame me, as well as make things up out of whole cloth. (Professor Volokh deleted none of it, despite being asked to remove some defamatory items. What a class act.)
I have puzzled a bit as to why Professor Volokh would pull such a juvenile stunt. Is it because I have occasionally taken him to task for his moral hypocrisy and intellectual limitations? (But I've never been as harsh as this, have I?) The truth is, I've gone easy on him, since almost any time he strays from case-crunching and analysis, his arguments are pretty bad, yet I comment on almost none of them. There are only so many hours in the day and, in any case, I don't read his site that often, and when I do, tend to skip his forays outside the case law. By the way, I don't mean to take anything away from case-crunching and analysis: Professor Volokh is always informative on these matters, and his command of First Amendment case law is impressive indeed. But his willingness to use his blog site to encourage unmoderated smears and defamation of a professional colleague is, shall we say, a bit surprising.
Perhaps I shall have to start a thread in which anonymous posters can comment on whether this was "nice" of Professor Volokh?